Change is in the air: if your ferrous metalcasting facility is a major source of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), you have until next spring to comply with new maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards. If you're a minor source of HAPs, knowing the issues can help you influence the impending changes you may face in the next few years.
The American Foundry Society (AFS) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in September began the settlement process on a two-year-old lawsuit seeking clarification to the maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards for iron and steel metalcasting facilities. However, the area source rules for facilities with lower emissions of HAPs are still a source of debate.
The EPA issued the final National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP, commonly referred to as MACT) in April 2002, and AFS filed a legal challenge to allow continued negotiations on several provisions within the standards. Now, after two years of dialogue, AFS and EPA are in general agreement on modifications to the final role, which will clarify the language and provide flexibility for metalcasting facilities trying to comply with the standards. The compliance date for the rule, however, did not change, and facilities must be in full compliance by April 23, 2007. This rule applies to iron and steel metalcasting facilities that emit more than 10 tons per year of any single HAP or 25 tons or more of combined HAPs.
Smaller facilities that fall below those emissions totals still have time to influence the ongoing debate that will define the area source rules under development. These standards are expected to be finalized in late 2007, with compliance dates one to three years after that.
"We're currently in discussions with EPA on the area source rule provisions and need to have input from metalcasting facilities," said Amy Blankenbiller, a spokesperson for the AFS Washington office.
Making the MACT
Under the Clean Air Act, EPA is required to develop the NESHAPs for specific industrial source categories. Both iron and steel metalcasting facilities were listed as source categories by the agency. For existing sources, MACT standards are determined by averaging the output of facilities in the top performing (lowest emissions) 12% of the industry. MACT for new sources is based on the best controlled similar sources.
Negotiations between AFS and EPA on the MACT standards went right up to the court-ordered deadline. In order to continue discussions and address confusion in the rule language, AFS filed a legal challenge, raising 35 issues. AFS and EPA reached agreement on 34 of the 35 issues and have been working on settlement of the challenge and crafting a supplemental rule. The changes will provide additional flexibility for the facilities that must meet MACT by next spring. Highlights of the changes include:
* Inclusion of equivalent emission limits for cupolas of 0.1 lb PM/ton of metal charged or 0.008 lb./ton of total metal HAP;
* Language to clarify the definition of a major source;
* Elimination of requirement to obtain procedures used by scrap suppliers for either removing mercury switches or purchasing auto bodies that have had them removed;
* Additional guidance for initial compliance demonstrations for emission limits and opacity readings;
* Technical corrections related to compliance monitoring that will allow facilities more flexibility.
EPA must publish the proposed rule language changes in the Federal Register and take public comments before issuing a supplemental, final rule to codify the changes. AFS expects this process to take until the end of the year at least.
Look to the Source
While AFS has been striving to wrap up the major source regulations, work also has been moving forward since October 2006 on the development of the requirements for minor (i.e. area) sources. Discussions between AFS and EPA are at a critical juncture, as the agency is eager to begin drafting the actual rule text for the new regulations that will cover all minor sources of HAPs.
"We have reached general agreement on several key issues, but there are still more [area source] issues that need to be addressed," said Steve Lewallen, chairman of the AFS Area Source Working Group. "In addition, EPA may come back to us with some issues we haven't even thought of."
EPA is under a court ordered timeline for finalizing the estimated 50 area source rules that have not been completed. The iron and steel metalcasting facility rule is to be finalized by December 2007, which will require the agency to publish the proposal in the spring of 2007. Compliance will be required one to three years from the date of promulgation.
The rule is expected to cover several areas, including melting, scrap management, fugitive emissions, operation and maintenance plans, triethylamine (TEA) scrubbers and furan warm box binders. AFS and EPA have held discussions on all of these issues and developed proposals in collaboration on each one except melting. In addition, AFS has proposed no control or emission limits for pouring and scrap preheaters, as well as a request to exempt those from having to get a Title V permit solely because they are covered under this rule. Currently, the EPA is reviewing the proposals, but they may come back to AFS with revisions or requests for addition technical information or data analysis. For melting, work continues on the development of a proposal.
MACT vs. GACT
Under the Clean Air Act, the standards for area sources are less stringent than those developed for major sources. Namely, rather than implementing the very best in achievable control technology (i.e. MACT), which is determined by averaging the top 12% of covered facilities without consideration of cost, area source standards are based on generally achievable control technology (GACT), which is determined by looking at what most facilities are doing and assessing the costs of compliance.
Therefore, area source standards are supposed to reflect the emissions control devices and practices commonly in use by smaller metalcasting facilities.
In order to reduce HAPs at the source prior to melting, AFS and EPA agree that metalcasting facilities should implement scrap management programs. The program under discussion is focused on purchase specifications in two main categories: 1) restricted metallic scrap would contain no auto shred, oil filters, oily turnings, lead Components, mercury switches, chlorinated plastics, or free organic liquids; and 2) general scrap, which can contain auto shred, but must be depleted of organics and HAP metals, must address mercury though specifications or certification that the scrap dealer participates in new EPA mercury switch removal program.
Metalcasting facilities using phenolic urethane coldbox cores and molds could be required to pay more attention to controlling triethylamine (TEA) emissions.
Coldbox users that do not already implement a wet acid scrubber may have to start. And the area sources that are currently employing a wet acid scrubber will have to watch their pH levels. Per discussions with the EPA, AFS has proposed that the pH of a wet acid scrubber not exceed 4.5. This requirement can be satisfied by a once-a-day spot check. Where a facility is using a recirculating pump, which is not mandatory, AFS has proposed that its functionality also can be satisfied by once daily spot checks.
The restricted pH level of acid scrubbers is designed to ensure the reusability of core/ mold materials containing TEA. The bonding agent only can be recycled at pH levels between 4.0 and 4.5, and reuse will eliminate hazardous wastes.
In addition, AFS has proposed that facilities using furan warm box must make sure their binder does not contain methanol as a specific ingredient of catalyst formulation as determined from the material safety data sheet.
Overseeing Your Emissions
AFS and EPA are also working on a two-pronged approach to monitor fugitive emissions with a one-time initial compliance demonstration and an ongoing visual inspection program. This would be a way for facilities to make sure their processes are operating properly without having a specific emissions limit on the different pieces of equipment.
The one-time initial performance test would be done by visually inspecting the operating opacity of the facility's fugitive emissions, or emissions not attributable to a point source. A "certified reader" (one who has met the specifications of Federal Reference Method 9 and is a qualified visual emissions evaluator) would observe the entire facility from one or more vantage points and confirm that fugitive emissions constitute no more than 20% opacity. That is, emissions must be 80% see-through.
The routine visual inspection would be a weekly check, recorded by a trained employee to ensure that the plant emissions are normal (i.e. consistent with emissions that would prevail 80% of the time the processes are in operation, excluding start up, shut down and malfunction). The facility would need to develop and have on file a plan for investigating abnormal emissions, as well as corrective measures for those abnormalities. AFS also has proposed that this requirement not apply to metalcasting facilities that have a state or federal permit that contains similar provisions.
Operation and Maintenance Plans
AFS also has proposed that metalcasters develop an ongoing plan for checking on the emissions sources covered by the area source rule. Proposed operations and maintenance plans would include at least the following:
* general facility information, including contacts;
* positions responsible to inspect, maintain and repair covered equipment and emissions control devices;
* description of items to be inspected on a regular basis;
* schedule for inspection;
* list of inventoried replacement parts;
* instructions for weekly fugitive emissions inspections.
Title V Permit Exemptions
Under the Clean Air Act, facilities can be required to obtain a Title V permit for numerous reasons. AFS has proposed that area sources required to obtain a Title V permit only because they are covered by this area source rule should be exempt from that mandate. Title V permits are intended to coordinate numerous permits and requirements into one package. Most area sources have limited permit requirements that are easy to manage. Furthermore, Title V permit attainment would be cost prohibitive for small metalcasting facilities.
"If area source rules are themselves the only reason for getting a Title V permit, area source foundries shouldn't have to get one," Lewallen said.
Where the Wind Takes You
Discussions continue between AFS and EPA on how to address melting, which is the one main issue where general agreement has not been reached. AFS has thus far made three proposals regarding melting operations:
* No controls for induction furnaces;
* Baghouses for electric are furnaces;
* Air pollution control devices and operation and maintenance plans for cupola furnaces.
EPA, however, is interested in developing emission limits. The limits could be furnace specific, or there may be one limit applied to all facilities. The concern is how to set limits without imposing substantial costs on the facilities that would need to upgrade or modify their controls to be in compliance.
The metalcasting society is in the process of collecting information in order to inform those discussions. Specifically, AFS is seeking emissions data from cupola operators with wet scrubbers.
"We are trying to develop melt standards that will not require facilities to rip out their current control technologies," Blankenbiller said. "If we had more emissions data, we could propose an approach that is least burdensome on the industry."
Visit www.epa.govttn/atw/urban/arearules.htmlfor a discussion of the existing standards that apply to minor sources of hazardous air pollutants.
For a complete list of changes to the MACT standards, emissions factors and other compliance assistance tools, go to the AFS Website at http://www.afsinc.org/MACT/. All of the area source rule proposals can be reviewed through the link on the AFS home page at www.afsinc.org.